Category Archives: Events and Activities

Summer in Rochester Fair

Staying in Rochester for the summer? Haven’t stayed before but might be considering it? Come to the Summer in Rochester Fair on Wednesday, February 11th, from 1pm to 4 pm in Hirst Lounge, Wilson Commons, to check out all that Rochester has to offer!

The fair will include campus offices, local businesses and organizations showcasing what services they offer during the summer!


Stop by and enjoy some free food, a summer classic: the corn dog! Visit the Summer Sessions table to tell us how YOU would improve the Rochester Summer Session experience and enter to win a $100 Starbucks gift card. Take your photo at the “Summer Selfie Station.” Take your best Summer Selfie for a chance to win cool, summer themed prizes!

Campus Offices include: Office of Undergraduate Research, Office of Admissions, Dining Services, Orientation, Wilson Commons Student Activities, and the Office of Summer Programs and Part-Time Studies.

Local Businesses and Organizations include: Breathe Yoga, Corner Bakery Cafe, The Little Blue Cheese Shop, The Corn Hill Arts Festival, Westside Farmers Market, UR Bookstore, and Camp Good Days and Special Times.

The Summer in Rochester Fair is sponsored by Wilson Commons Student Activities and the Office of Summer Programs and Part-Time Studies.

To stay connected and get all the latest updates about Summer, like us on Facebook!

In Which I See Some Light from A Few Million Years Ago

Do you know why the Milky Way is so named?  It’s shaped like a disk, and since we sit inside of that disk, there’s a particular direction we can look and see the “thickest” slice of our galaxy (from where we are to the edge).  This slice appears as a band across the sky, milky because our eyes can’t distinguish the billions of individual stars from one another.  The sight of this illuminated strip, a reminder of our own insignificant place orbiting one star out of a few hundred billion in one galaxy out of a couple hundred billion, is truly amazing.  Have you seen it before?

If not, you should really head over for a tour of the Mees Observatory.  The observatory, owned and operated by the University of Rochester and about an hour’s drive away, sits on the highest point in Ontario County; given the low levels of light pollution there, it’s kind of like “the best seat in the house” when it comes to observing the stars (and other such astronomical objects).

The trip started with a powerpoint.  Well, no, the trip started with the bus ride over (which I planned to spend reading but, naturally, got sucked into a conversation about Marxism and television and Ramadan and what those all have to do with each other, because a bus ride with Rochester students is never boring).  And then continued with us getting out of the bus to stand on a dais outside the house that treated us to this panorama:


And then with us getting coffee and donuts.

But after all of that, there was a powerpoint, courtesy of our tour guide Dave Cameron.  Highlights of the presentation include: everyone at the UR has been pronouncing Gannett wrong (actually guh-NET), and the house at the observatory is named after him; on any given night there will be about 3 dozen satellites visible, most of which are garbage (“we’re polluting the sky”); the night of our visit was the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11, of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin fame; someone asked “Does Pluto still exist?” when we were naming off the planets; and, as beautiful as our auroras are on Earth, listening to Saturn’s aurora provided me with a brand new soundtrack for my worst nightmares.

Overall, the presentation was fun and engaging.  We did pause for a moment during to head outside and see an iridium flare, which is when an iridium communication satellite catches the light just so, and, well, flares.  The flash can be incredibly bright, up to 30 times brighter than Venus, and I’m really sorry that I just ruined that one time you thought you saw a UFO (if you’re interested, you can plan a viewing here).

The tour continued with a trek into the actual observatory.  There are two parts to the observatory: a control room and the telescope.

The control room, running on computers older than me, locks in on a star (or other object) and moves the telescope.


Meanwhile, up in the telescope area, you can rotate the ceiling to reveal some pretty spectacular views.

To help you navigate in the dim red lighting, there were carefully placed glow-in-the-dark stars.
To help you navigate in the dim red lighting, there were well placed glow-in-the-dark stars, which we all found equal parts helpful and amusing.

The first thing we saw was Saturn, and all its rings.  The rings are only about 30-300 ft. thick and more than 750 million miles away (point of comparison: that’s more than 100 times the combined height of every single living person)… and yet, here they were, clearly visible.  I saw how the planet was tilted, and the swirls on its surface.  I don’t know the best way to communicate what it was like to see something that cool, but I will say that the first person to go up and take a peek simply exclaimed: wow.

We saw a ring nebula, and (my personal favorite) the Hercules globular cluster.  All the while, Eric Mamajek, a UR professor, answered our questions and shared stories about the universe and where it came from (and let us know that if we’re interested, we can learn much more about it in Astronomy 105 or 111 next semester).

An expedition to Niagara Falls or Letchworth State Park can certainly be beautiful, but to me, there’s something even cooler about being a tourist of your solar system.  We ended the night by going out, looking up at the stars, and seeing the band across the sky that gives our galaxy its name: the Milky Way, the ultimate sightseeing experience.

PS: if you follow that Mees Observatory link, it loads a different background picture whenever you refresh the page, so have fun with that.

The Jazz Perks of Ushering

It has been three days since the Jazz Festival has ended and I sort of miss it. I don’t miss it for the music, but for the people I met and the stories that were exchanged.

As an usher for Eastman, I was expected to help out with the venues at the festival alongside the Jazz Festival volunteers. At one of the venues, I had the opportunity to chat with an elderly man who was volunteering at the festival. He was a Rochester native that used to work for Kodak before it went bankrupt and he gave me his story has to why Kodak crumbled. His theories seemed logical and sound, but his point of the story wasn’t to tell a young college female why Kodak went bankrupt, but to tell a young college female a story of why STEM needs more women. When his daughters were little, he always did his best to encourage his daughters to take as many math and science course they could and hoped that they would pursue science as a career. Despite his intentions, his daughters ended Continue reading The Jazz Perks of Ushering